I called up Dan Feldman from Piston Powered (@PistonPowered) after the Austin Daye deal broke last night and we chatted about the player and some other topics, have a listen for an overview of what the newest Raptor is like. Topics include:

  • Jump shooting effectiveness
  • Defensive work
  • Mental toughness, work ethic
  • Surprise that Daye got a contract
  • Good deal or mistake by the Raptors? Comparable players out there?
  • Rating Detroit’s off-season, and competition with the Raptors for playoffs
  • Charlie V and Stuckey for Rudy Gay rumours from a while back
  • Bryan Colangelo’s promise to Charlie V
  • How Pistons fans view Charlie V

Grab the iTunes feed or the plain old feed. You can also download the file (13:33, 14 MB). Or just listen below:

So that was the podcast and below is what I think the Raptors are planning for with these moves:

Essentially, next year is a throwaway year where the goal is to make the playoffs in a risk-free manner, i.e., do it in a way where future financial resources are not committed, while pleasing fans in the interim. The Raptors are hoping, and I have this on good account, that Rudy Gay does not pick up his option next summer giving them close to $30M in cap space. This is the flexibility the Raptors are seeking so they can dive into the trade and free-agent pool of 2014 which includes Greg Monroe, Avery Bradley, Paul George, Zach Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James (only mentioning for completeness), and others.

As Raptors fans, we better hope that Rudy Gay has a year where he’s inclined to pass on the $19.3M deal that he’s owed in 2013-14 in favor of a long-term deal that pays him more on aggregate. I’m thinking if the Raptors had their way, every play next season would be for Rudy Gay. It’s all about cleaning up the mess that Bryan Colangelo has left behind by pressing the ‘reset’ button, only that the button takes a full year to press. This is hardly tanking, and I firmly believe that the Raptors are aiming to make the playoffs, if for no other reason than for the brief rejuvenation that would bring and the ever-so-slight validation it would provide for Masai Ujiri and Tim Leiweke.

D.J Augustin and Austin Daye are unlikely to ever take you to a championship level, but what they enable the Raptors to do is connect the dots to next summer. That’s when Ujiri for the first time will have the flexibility he desires along with the associated accountability. The standard in Toronto has been set so low that all Ujiri has to do is give a marginal NBA player a non-guaranteed year and he’s considered a genius. He’s racking up tons of goodwill early in his second stint with the Raptors while playing on the sub-text of fixing Colangelo’s errors, and that should last him all of next season. Next summer is when we go beyond table stakes, assuming Gay plays nice.

  • DanH

    30M in cap space??? Where are you getting that? Unless the cap goes way up, it’s not happening. Assuming a cap equal to this year’s 58.7M, if all the unguaranteed salary is waived, and assuming only DD, Fields, Novak, Jonas, and Ross are on the team, that’s still $35.2 M committed salary – leaving 23.4M in cap space.

    Assuming a cap increase to 61.0 M (as projected, though the reality fell short of the projection this year), that’s still only 25.8 M in cap space. And that assumes we waive Amir Johnson, which seems unlikely for 2M in cap savings, so the reality is more like 24M, max.

    Of course, trades can change everything.

    • Nilanka15

      2013-14 Salaries:
      $17.9 million for Gay
      $6.2 million for Lowry
      $6.5 million for Amir
      —————————
      $30.6 million

      • DanH

        Not sure what that is supposed to mean…

        • Nilanka15

          Perhaps by “cap space”, he meant “salary savings”.

          • DanH

            OK, but “salary savings” is entirely meaningless. And we save only 2 M by waiving Amir.

            • SR

              I’m also completely lost re: “salary savings.” I even Googled it. No help there.

    • arsenalist

      Alright man, the point is that they’ll have lots of cap-space to sign free-agents and have flexibility in making trades. The $30M is probably an idealistic scenario and assumes a trade or so, but the point is that Gay heading out would give the Raptors free-agent flexibility, and give Ujiri a chance to go after players he wants rather than ones he has to settle for.

      • DanH

        Fair enough.

    • ItsAboutFun

      Awww, what’s a bump of 25% amongst friends, right?

  • Tee

    Bargnani out-weighs Daye by 56Lbs.

    Lots of perimeter players on the raps now
    Novack
    Daye
    Augustine
    Ross

    It seems as if they want to play small ball a lot. I hope these coaches know what they’re doing.

  • Nilanka15

    I see the rotation as follows:

    STARTERS:
    Lowry
    DeRozan
    Gay
    Amir
    Jonas

    FIRST OFF THE BENCH:
    Augustin
    Ross
    Fields
    Novak
    Hansborough

    DEEP BENCH (Garbage Time)
    Acy
    Buycks
    Daye
    Gray
    Q-Rich (if not bought out).

    I don’t see how the Daye signing really affects anything.

    • themasao

      Agreed. But I was hoping he’d sign someone who would affect the bench rotation.

      Ross and Fields being the first two wings off the bench frightens me. If you combined their skillsets you’d almost have a legitimate NBA player…

      Almost.

      • tonious35

        Injuries are inevitable. The Raps training and coaching staff + mentoring by players/teammates + Austin Daye’s “learning abilities” are going to be responsible in improving and fortifying Daye’s professional attitude and work ethic to his strengths. The “DEEP BENCH (Garbage Time)” will be opened when a key rotation players goes down and the bench players better be ready to contribute with everything they have. Who knows how good the DEEP BENCH will be in the regular season when emergencies occur, but this when the bag of surprises is opened and the Toronto under-dog fans will lose their s@#%.

    • Casey Sherman

      I think that Acy and Buycks will get more PT than Fields and Augustin, either earn it or start with it. But that’s just me

      • Nilanka15

        Yup, it’s certainly possible. But I’m going by Casey’s tendency to favour experience.

  • truth be told

    Why would the Raps making the playoffs be validation for MU and Leiweke?
    The roster has been tweaked not overhauled outside of the Bargnani trade.
    I would think making the playoffs would be more of a slight vindication for BC than anyone else.
    That being said making the playoffs in the East with the money spent on this team is no great accomplishment.
    I don’t know what the plan is, none of us do really save Masai & Leiweke but should they not make the playoffs next year with that being the goal, I hope we can finally move on tearing this current roster down and trying to build a contender instead of still trotting out BC’s wack team. Heres hoping they strive for something more meaningful than a low playoff seed.
    Keeping salary cap space for 2014 to try and be a player in the FA and trade market will be an interesting course of action considering how many other teams will be doing the exact same thing. I hear criticism regarding “rebuilding” because other teams trying to tank so the Raps would be competing with those cellar dwellers…..well if you project that Raps are trying to comepte with Lakers, Miami, etc and all the other teams that will have cap space in 2014, good luck with that strategy.

    • GoingBig

      RE: Making the Play-offs
      The constant drum-beat of 5 years without play-offs… 5 years with-out play-offs…
      That was the down-fall of BC – an absolute stat that showed failure
      A 6th year would be a dead-weight against Masai Ujiri for the regular (non-hoophead) fans
      Making the play-offs would not be a validation but a reprieve

  • ShutUp

    ew shut up you fools here are soo wack

  • SR

    “I hope Rudy Gay leaves $19 mil. on the table and that we can overpay Zach Randolph to come play in Toronto! Fingers crossed, guys!”

    This sounds like a great strategy.

    As mentioned below, there’s going to be more FA competition in 2014 than tanking competition. If this team isn’t going to unload Rudy Gay etc., then I expect genuine change to be a good two seasons away. I would not get your hopes up about next summer – an awful lot of “ifs” in that best-case scenario you’ve outlined.

    Of course the right trade at the right time would change everything…

  • rick

    I’m so confused. I thought the point of this year was to see if the current starting 5 has some chemistry together, and if they do to hope that gay extends or resigns with the raps, as well as Lowry if he plays well. if so. we will have very liitle cap space if any at all?

    • Nilanka15

      Truth be told, Ujiri hasn’t said anything about the “point of this year”. It’s all speculation on our part.

      • rick

        It’s actually quite apparent from all his 1 year signings that he wants to see what this group can do. if so , why would they hope gay would leave at end of year?

        • Nilanka15

          Again, the hope that Gay leaves is more speculation. Ujiri hasn’t said what his plans for Gay are.

    • cdub

      I think Gay resigning is a possibilty. Don’t drink the RR kool aid. They will do what makes sense based off this coming year and if Gay has a great year and opts out it very well could happen even though some people are hoping for him to opt out for other reasons.

  • Rebuilding

    Stuckey+Villa for Gay is a terrible idea. This is like trading your average middle class home for a old run down home in the projects in the hope that the government grants you a nice new cost controlled home in the suburbs that may one day be worth more then your original run down home.

  • ItsAboutFun

    The entire starting unit, plus 2 key bench players (Ross/Fields) are BCs doing, but making the playoffs would be validation for MU and TL???? Huh? What denial dimension is this? Has Tim W been sending BC bud to RR?

  • Norm DePlume

    It would take an awful lot to get Gay to pass on the last year of that deal. I don’t see it happening. He can have that giant pay cheque in 2014/15 and then look for a long term deal the following summer.

    • DDayLewis

      It seems unlikely because the option is for 19.3 million, but if he gets injured or sees his performance decline, he would be jeopardizing a tonne of money. He’ll likely receive a contract in the range of Josh Smith (high) and Andre Iguodala (low).

      • SR

        He’s turning 27 this summer. He’ll be 28 when he picks up his option. He’ll be 29 when he’s looking for a new 4-5 year contract – it’s iffy as to whether or not his age will cost him at that point. Whether he signs it in 2014 or 2015, his next contract will be for quite a bit less than $19 mil. (i.e. this is not a Dwight Howard situation). Considering Jose just got 4 yrs/$28 mil @ 31 years old, I’d be surprised if Rudy figures taking the $19 mil. and being an UFA at 29 would cost him money.

        • DDayLewis

          It’s not a guarantee, but it is very likely. Not to pimp my work, but I wrote about this at my blog (how original). The full article is here:

          http://btphard.blogspot.ca/2013/07/rudy-gay-glass-half-empty-glass-half.html

          Who has money?

          As it currently stands, 22 teams will be under the salary cap for the 2014 offseason (I compiled a list of how much cap space each team will have here). A number of these teams lack a quality small forward, including the Suns (~20M), Cavaliers (~22M), Bobcats/Hornets (~23M), 76ers (~37M), Jazz (~43.5M), Lakers (~46M) and Mavericks (~48M). Given that the new CBA stipulates that teams must spend a minimum of ~90% of the salary cap, there will be an abundance of money being handed out to free agents next summer. It’s going to be a bonanza.

          Given that the 2014 offseason will likely be a buyers market, a hefty offer may very well entice Gay to decline his player option. Remember, if Gay eschews free agency in 2014, he is betting that he can garner a similar contract in the future. However, that’s a lot of risk to incur. Should he seriously injure himself, or if his performance declines, he will likely lose a significant amount of money. Gay has seriously injured himself in the past, missing28 games in 2011 in part due to a dislocated shoulder.

          Who will be available?

          There’s also the matter of who will be available. Should teams miss out on players like Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony (both have early termination clauses), Gay may very well benefit from the “bridesmaid effect” (everyone understands this, right? Think Stoudemire or Boozer in 2010, or just Rudy Gay in 2010).

          A full list of potential free agent small forwards can be found here, and beyond Lebron and Carmelo, the cupboard is pretty barren. Players like Butler, Leonard, Parsons, Barnes, MKG and George will definitely have their team options activated, or receive extensions. Paul Pierce will most likely retire (especially if the Nets crash and burn this season), and Andrei Kirilenko will likely continue to be underpaid as he has been all his career (career .257 WP48). Gay’s main competitor will likely be Luol Deng, but given the amount of money scheduled to be on the market, there should be plenty of cash for the both of them.

          • Casey Sherman

            Good blog read. A measure more reasonable than a lot of internet analysis I’ve seen, especially with the fact that you went beyond the basic advanced stat metrics. My one qualm with the post would be that you only focused on the past. Gay came to the Raptors during his worst season as a pro, and I think he has lots of room to improve his production this season

            • DDayLewis

              Thanks for the read. I’m trying to get my blog going, so it’s always nice to hear some feedback.

              I agree that Gay’s half season in Toronto might have been an outlier, but his career numbers have never been very impressive.

              As I mentioned, his best offensive skill is isolation where he scores 0.94 points per play. Even with more optimal usage (ie: more isolation plays for Gay), that’s still bad for the Raptors in the aggregate.

              His shiny per game numbers are mostly a result of minutes played. His per-minute production is pretty average. As a raptors fan, I definitely root for him to succeed and be a more productive player, but if he’s the same as he always is, I hope the Raptors avoid overpaying to keep him.

              • Casey Sherman

                I hear you. Personally I hope the iso plays are kept to a minimum–I mean, he can have them if he wants, but I’m looking forward to more of a high-low game with him and Valanciunas.

                Anyway, if you’re looking to distribute your blog or just get views, reddit.com is one good place, if you haven’t already done so. r/torontoraptors will give you about 200-300 views (during the season) and some active commentary. If your posts have more mainstream appeal you could try r/nba, which could get you big time views. With the detail you went into for the Gay post I’m sure you’d get at least a moderately positive response. And hey, if you don’t wanna submit the article I might just submit it myself…

                • DDayLewis

                  I actually emailed the raptorsrepublic contact email about perhaps submitting it as a guest post here. So far, I’ve heard nothing from them.

                  I’ve never used reddit before. I’ve peeked in on a couple of AMA’s but that’s about it. If you want to post my blog on the raptors thread, go ahead. I’d appreciate the feedback. The blog is mostly a pet project of mine. The majority of content will be raptors related.

                  As to your note about offense, I happened to write about that today. Steve Novak is going to significantly improve the Raptors in the area that they’re weakest in; spot up shooting.

                  http://btphard.blogspot.ca/2013/08/the-secret-mitzvah-of-steve-novak.html

                • Casey Sherman

                  Hmm, often they’ll put it in the “latest web articles” section. They did this somewhat regularly for me and my friends’ tongue in cheek blog Bronas and the Whale during the season

                  http://bronasvalanciunas.wordpress.com

                  About the offense, hopefully we’ll see some Daye spotting up as well… I for one think he’s going to give Novak a run for his money for minutes

                • DDayLewis

                  Cool site. Love the commentary. Great analysis as well.

                  That’s actually a great point. Steve Novak is one of the best spot up shooters in the league, but Daye is pretty damn good himself. He ranked 17th in the leage with a 1.26 ppp. Maybe Ujiri looked at how terrible the Raptors were at spotting up and acquired two of the league’s best to alleviate the problem.

  • SR

    Career numbers:

    Player A – FG% = 0.437; 3P% = 0.361
    Player B – FG% = 0.450; 3P% = 0.353
    Player C – FG% = 0.410; 3P% = 0.356

    Player A 2013/14 salary = $10 mil.
    Player B 2013/14 salary = $17.8 mil.
    Player C 2013/14 salary = $0.948 mil.

    Summary – for anyone who thought Bargnani and Gay were inefficient chuckers, you ain’t seen the light of Daye! On the plus side, BC gives shooters who can’t shoot or defend $10 million dollars and call them franchise players, while Ujiri likes to sign them for one tenth of that price and park ’em at the end of the bench. ‘Atta boy, Ujiri!

    • ItsAboutFun

      Stats of very high usage guys to an end of the bench guy who plays garbage time against scrubs. Give yourself a shake, lad.

      • SR

        You’re kind of missing the point – the comment was 50% tongue-in-cheek, which should be obvious. Lighten up a bit.

        However this roster’s offensive inefficiency is, unfortunately, not a joke. To that end, Austin Daye isn’t going to help much at all and will hardly get any minutes. Hopefully Novak can contribute and find a spot in the rotation.

    • Amigo

      Player D – FG% = 0.45; 3P% = 0.29

      Player D 2013/2014 salary = $ 9.5 mil

      That’s much better and just has 4 more years left with incentives.

      • SR

        It’s a little depressing how inefficient this team is on the offensive end.

        Raptors 2013 FG% rankings:

        – Kyle Lowry #63 among PG’s (played 10 games or more)

        – DeMar DeRozan #22 among SG’s (played 10 games or more)

        – Rudy Gay #52 among SF’s (played 10 games or more)

        That’s pretty bad. Not one efficient scorer – not even one. Doesn’t that spell trouble? Ask Steve Nash how important offensive efficiency is (http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/69965/qa-steve-nash-on-trying-out-for-inter-milan-the-dwight-howard-pitch-meeting-and-his-favorite-tv-dramas).

        Hopefully increasing JV’s role in the offense mixes things up and gets the wings some higher percentage looks.

        • SR

          You’d like to have at least one scorer with top-10 efficiency. This is a big part of the reason the Raptors couldn’t win tight games in crunch time last year. When your percentages are in the low .40’s across the board, they’re going to drop quite a bit below that in the final minutes when the defensive intensity and focus of your opponents is cranked up exponentially.

        • DDayLewis

          True shooting percentage would be a more appropriate measurement of efficiency, given that each player shoots an above average number of free throws and 3 pointers (except for Demar).

          Lowry ranks ~20th for PG’s (min 20 games, 20+ min/game)
          DD is ~40th for SG’s
          Gay is in the bottom 10 for SF’s

          Yeah, the offense won’t be pretty. Hopefully we run more pick and roll for Amir (0.99 points per play) and JV (1.23 ppp).

  • iamMJ

    Guys , Raps are going to be #4 in the East. Watch and C.

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